Publishing Quandary

With the numerous publishing options available today, writers often ask me, “Should I publish traditionally, or should I self-publish?” Every time, I answer, “That depends.”

Depends on what? First, know what your goals, intentions, and desires are for your book. Do you intend to only give it away to family and friends? Do you intend to sell it at speaking engagements and readings, book fairs and festivals, or out of the trunk of your car? Do you want to reach a local or regional audience with your message or a national and possibly an international one? What are you seeking overall? Fame and fortune? Leaving a treasured keepsake for posterity’s sake? Providing a missive for the universal good of all? Knowing the answer to these questions will give you direction.

Second, how much time, money, and, yes, energy can you afford and are willing to invest in the publication process, i.e., editing, design, and marketing? Keep in mind that today even in traditional publishing the marketing of the book is primarily the author’s responsibility–even before it is published. (Get Known before the Book Deal by Christina Katz is a great resource.) Knowing the answer to this question will help you focus.

And third, are you willing to see the publication process through to completion when you hit the inevitable snags, such as the money you set aside for editing needs to be used to fix your carburetor or replace your refrigerator? Are you all-in, or will you scrap your project the minute things go awry or you’ve received your fifteenth rejection letter? Knowing the answer to these questions will reveal to you your level of commitment.

Determining your publishing path follows the same formula as writing your book: direction, focus, and commitment. If you have written a book, you know you have what it takes to present it to the world. Just make sure that before you do–whether through traditional or self-publishing–you have a product that is as polished to perfection as possible.